The nice people over at Reboot have been on my mind lately. I have known about their work for a few years and have silently applauded (one hand clapping, while the other grips the iPod) their mission of helping people slow down their lives and jump off their individual mouse-wheels. One tool in their kit is the National Day of Unplugging, the most recent of which was this past Shabbat.
On the National Day of Unplugging, people are encouraged to leave their gadgets behind and have a different kind of Shabbat – not necessarily to observe in an Orthodox manner, but to bring some intentionality to their relationship with technology. Since starting work, I have been feeling the electronic tether too much and have struggled with setting limits for myself, and for the boys.
It’s not easy. My kids love their screen time, and because they love it so much I had been scared to try unplugging for a whole Shabbat. I also, alas, love my screen time, even though I hate how it makes me feel. (“This is your brain. This is your brain after hours of screen time. Any questions?”) And although I don’t usually use the screens on Shabbat, I sometimes find them useful for occupying the kids if I want a little Shabbos schluf.
Nonetheless, I have had unplugging on my mind and decided to take the plunge. Just like they say in the stupid buzzfeed videos, what happened next shocked me.
Boys woke up Shabbat morning and came in for an epic snuggle. I mentioned to them that a lot of people are choosing this Shabbat to go without electronics for the whole Shabbat and that I was going to do it. They bought in, without hesitation.
We went downstairs and I made them French toast and pancakes. (Not enough challah left from Shabbat dinner!)
They played in the living room while I napped after breakfast, right there at the table. (I pushed my plate out of the way first, I’ll have you know.)
We had an impromptu davening at home, full of music and fun and joy. I noted happily that I have made some progress toward my goal of learning the prayers. Akiva read us the first few lines from the parsha, and even Gideon led some of the songs.
We lunched on leftovers from Shabbat dinner.
We goofed around in the afternoon. I had another nap, this one in the bed.
I made dinner.
We had havdalah.
The words “best Shabbat ever” were heard throughout the house.